GROUP IS BUSY IN THE BUSH
WITH the documents for a 10-year lease on 3.3 hectares of wetlands secured only last Thursday, Monto Landcare volunteers got down to business on Friday, turning the area into a drawcard for tourists and conservationists.
The first item on the agenda was erecting an old windmill, donated from Bonidoon Station, which will serve as a tourist display and pump water over an area of wetland back from the old Monto Scout Hall on Dalton St.
“Eventually we want this area to be a tourist precinct. They will be able to see how windmills work and see more than 4000 types of plants,” Landcare founder Glenn Baker said.
Mr Baker first got Landcare off the ground in 1989 when he said the whole area was a mess of weeds, grass and rubbish.
But two years ago, a huge effort went into replanting trees, cutting out diversion banks and doing up management plans, and the area has done an excellent job at regenerating.
With help from a Queensland Government Everyone’s Environment grant, and Burnett Mary Regional Group and Burnett Catchment Care Association flood recovery grants, more than $400,000 has gone towards helping the area recuperate.
The lease approval presents new opportunities for the group.
Rob and Edna Keiler have plans to create a settlers’ garden, with date palms, bougainvillea, pepperinas, roses and other plants introduced to the area by the earliest pioneers.
“We have already started going around to properties where these earliest settlers lived and collecting seeds and cuttings; we want to get a bougainvillea going up the windmill,” Mrs Keiler said.
The group has also got its hands on the bearers from the old Huntings Bridge, which it will use to construct a bridge over its backyard billabong.
Walking paths, gardens and a car park next to the highway will also draw tourists into the precinct as soon as they pull up in town. And a hands-on centre in the Scout Hall with basket-weaving courses, interactive “kids’ days”, displays of problem weeds and a touchscreen computer all form part of Mr Baker’s plan to reconnect the community with the land and its history.
NATURAL WONDER: A settlers’ garden developed by Rob and Edna Keiler will be a tourist attraction in the future.